ITALY : : CINQUE TERRE

Third Destination : : Cinque Terre

Our travel within Italy was via Trenitalia, the country’s primary train operator. I’m happy to report that it was smooth sailing training with the exception of one rather significant occasion, on which I will expound a little later in the post. Fret not. In the Bard’s own words…All’s well that ends well.

After a splendid week in two of Italy’s most historic cities, we were ready for a culture break. There seemed no place better for a time out than Cinque Terre, a string of five tiny villages clinging to the edges of the Ligurian Sea…which, in all honesty…I referred to as the Mediterranean the whole time we were there…..’Oooooh….looky dat, it’s the Mediterranean.’ ‘Oooh, oooh…I just dipped my hand in the Mediterranean.’ ‘Ooooh..isn’t the sun setting on the Mediterranean bee-yoo-tee-full.’

Departing from Florence our train headed west, then north…the not yet visible sea to our left and the mountain range known as The Apuan Alps looming on the right. At first I thought these majestic mountains were dusted with snow, and then it dawned on me that I was looking at none other than a massive mountain of Carrara marble……sigh…another day, another awe moment.

After a train change in La Spezia, the air was palpable with anticipation. For most of us, myself included, Cinque Terre was that place…postcard perfect and not quite to be believed. We soon entered a tunnel to emerge moments later on a tiny ribbon of land, with sheer rock to the right and an azure blue sea sparkling like diamonds far below us. I don’t have photos that do it justice….to busy gaping {no shame}.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
Via Roma, Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Via Roma, Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Piazza Marconi, Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Piazza Marconi, Vernazza, Cinque Terre

So. Yes. It is. Postcard perfect. We stayed in Vernazza, the fourth, as the crow flies north, of the five fishing villages. No cars, one main pedestrian street ending in a piazza overlooking the sea, and a charming, very private room in a little Airbnb recommended by Alicia Fashionista, a Vancouver lifestyle and fashion blogger.

Trail from Vernazza heading in the direction of Corniglia
On the trail from Vernazza southbound to Corniglia. Still a way to go.

The Cinque Terre villages, the coastline, and the surrounding hillside are part of the Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre, and are a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s not just the villages that attract visitors. Hiking trails…originally goat paths…connect the villages and extend deep into the mountains. These trails hug the hillsides, traversing impossibly sited olive groves and vineyards. Our morning hike to Corniglia was strenuous {the steep steps and altitude gain at the onset did challenge me} but so utterly worth the effort.  

Corniglia, Cinque Terre, Italy
Corniglia, Cinque Terre, Italy
Cornigla, Cinque Terre
Corniglia’s Main Street, Cinque Terre
Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy
Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

We enjoyed a brief interlude in Corniglia before taking the local train to Manarola. After a seafood lunch, we set out to find the trailhead that would lead us to Riomaggiore.  Well…we found a trailhead, just not the one we thought we were looking for.

Note: Currently, the sea level walks between Riomaggiore, Manarola and Corniglia are closed due to heavy storm damage.

Looking North on the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
Looking North on the Manarola to Riomaggiore trail, Corniglia’s Train Station in the upper right, Cinque Terre
Looking south on the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
Looking south on the Manarola – Riomaggiore trail, heading down into Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

We had noodle legs by the time we got to Riomaggiore. It was a challenging hike…pretty much straight up the mountain and then straight down the other side. Definitely earned my vino rosso that day.

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy
Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy

We visited Monterosso on the morning of our last full day. It’s the northernmost village and feels the most resort-like.  After the previous day’s rather rigorous walk, we opted to take the train. It was at the Vernazza station that I noticed a small sign advising of ‘Train Strike – Friday 9:00 – 5:00’. Did I say it was Thursday? Suddenly, our itinerary was on it’s ear as we had travel booked for Friday around noon.  I had read about frequent train strikes in Italy…and I asked my friend Silvia of Sewing Princess about this very subject. Yes they do occur, but by mandate, they can only strike between 9:00am and 5:00pm. Being forewarned about the strike was helpful. With the help of the station master in Monterosso, the solution turned out to be simple. He couldn’t change our actual tickets, but he assured us we could travel earlier with no penalty. And….possibly because we’re Canadian – we do like our rules….he wrote a little note on our tickets and then stamped and initialed them with a flourish. We left Cinque Terre earlier than originally planned, but it was all good. Hint: check the status of your train travel the day before.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Piazza Marconi, Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre was…crazy beautiful. It’s rugged. It’s colourful. It’s peaceful. Did we climb mountains? Absolutely! But we rewarded ourselves daily with the regional cuisine of Liguria…Pesto alla Genovese, Minestrone, fresh seafood and Focaccia.

Still to come…our final destination…Venice.

STAY  : :  Airbnb Room in Vernazza, Italy

EAT    : :   Trattoria Gianni Franzi {In Cinque Terre, we gravitated towards ambiance. We ate most of our meals in Piazza Marconi, soaking up the atmosphere. We ate simply..salad and zuppa, or a simple pasta…and left sated and happy, but not wowed by the food, if that makes sense.}

{Feature photo : : Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy}

26 Comments

  • Reply Cheryl November 30, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    I’m ten kinds of jealous. Sounds like a fabulous trip!

    • Reply Sue December 1, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Payback….you know, all those photos of sunsets, and beaches, warm weather and margaritas. LOL…it was indeed fabulous!

  • Reply Suzanne November 30, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Oh wow! Just…WOW.

    I MUST go there! Adding this to my bucket list. AMAZING!!!

    This looks the perfect place to just get lost.

    Your photos are stunning. What an experience.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    • Reply Sue December 1, 2016 at 11:09 am

      You will LOVE it Suzanne! I know you love hiking and this is hiking on steroids.

      With a park pass in hand {it allows you access to the trails, trains and buses…you really could just allow yourself to get lost and explore!

  • Reply Sheila (of Ephemera) November 30, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Oh, such lovely pictures, Sue! I’m glad you went there – it’s such a gorgeous place. We weren’t able to do any of the trails when we were there, sadly, but I loved it so much.

    • Reply Sue December 1, 2016 at 11:12 am

      Being able to hike did add to the experience for sure. It’s a chance, traveling in October, as you know. That being said, I’m so thankful that you traveled in October and gave me the encouragement to do so too! THANK YOU for your advice and tips Sheila! For the most part, we had really beautiful weather.

  • Reply Sewing Princess December 1, 2016 at 3:11 am

    Gorgeous pictures Sue. You really captured the beauty of Cinque Terre…I want to go back now! I will bookmark that B&B!

    • Reply Sue December 1, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Silvia! Italy makes it easy to take gorgeous pictures! Thanks for your encouragement on traveling on our own!! We had a wonderful time! Gian’s B&B is awesome!

      I want to go back too! You can never take it all in, in a single trip and your region is very, very high on our list!!

  • Reply coco December 1, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Just incredible. hard to believe it’s all real. I’m jealous! but thank you so much for taking and sharing these priceless pics!

    • Reply Sue December 1, 2016 at 11:17 am

      It’s hard to describe, but it was like being in a dream. But pinch me…it’s 100% authentic! And that just adds to the beauty even more. One more post, then back to reality. 🙂

  • Reply Louisa December 1, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Big thanks for sharing your adventures! I watched a program about Cinque Terre and thought it was amazing. Now I know they weren’t kidding! Gorgeous.

    • Reply Sue December 1, 2016 at 11:18 am

      You’re welcome Louisa! I’ve long wanted to go to the Maritime provinces and you fueled the desire even more with your posts on your cross country trip! Hey…hope to see you soon!

  • Reply No Fear of Fashion December 1, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Honestly Sue… the words picture perfect you used are the very words that sprung to my mind too. I was in awe reading this. Never knew this existed. How utterly beautiful. (And how clever you discovered the train strike!)
    Amazing trip. You are doing me favours now.
    Greetje

    • Reply Sue December 3, 2016 at 9:48 am

      {{{HUGS}}} Your words mean A LOT to mean Greetje! Thank you!

  • Reply Sharon December 1, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Sitting eating my lunch and imagining that I am climbing those mountains, thank you so much for the glorious photos and so much information.

    • Reply Sue December 3, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Thank YOU for reading and enjoying!

  • Reply Val S December 2, 2016 at 1:23 am

    I have noodle legs just looking at your fantastic pictures! I never made it to Cinque Terre when I was in Italy – a good excuse for another trip, right? I love the colours of the buildings and the little streets, and the views – oh my god! I’ve heard the towns get overrun with tourists, but it doesn’t look too bad in your photos. I love the one of the tiny harbour and the boats and kayaks, and the pigeon right at the front. Such an amazing trip, Sue, and we still have Venice! Can’t wait!

    • Reply Sue December 3, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Yah-Uh…a very good reason, not to mention how CLOSE you are now….No eight {nine?} hour time change either!

      I’ve seen those pics with the streets solid with tourists. I wonder if traveling in mid October meant just a little less congestion? We never felt crowded there, especially in the evenings when the day trippers had left.

  • Reply Flo December 2, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous!!! I can see why you wanted to go there. Scary about the train strike, but isn’t it always something when you travel?!

    • Reply Sue December 3, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Yep…always a little drama, LOL. I think if I had a plane to catch, I would have stressed more, but I just knew we would get where we wanted to go…eventually. As it turned out, it was sooner and the arrival end was very accommodating with getting in sooner than originally expected.

  • Reply Shams December 3, 2016 at 5:24 am

    WOW! Such amazing beauty! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Sue December 3, 2016 at 9:43 am

      You are welcome! I admit, after seeing your super-fantastic Paris photos, I rued not taking more ‘window-licking’ photos, LOL! Another time.

  • Reply Mel December 8, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Guh guh guh guh, the sound of me in awe and stupefaction over the beauty of these places. Imagine asking any architecture in BC, hey, can you build me a bright yellow, tall narrow house on the edge of a cliff like that? In Deep Cove? Hahaha!!! And the terraces on the hillsides. Well, there are all kinds of romance movie ideas that spring to mind seeing these amazing photos. I’m glad you rolled with the punches about your travel – it’s definitely a good sign of how much you were enjoying yourselves. Would I go? Oh yeaaaah.

    • Reply Sue December 9, 2016 at 11:17 am

      LOLOLOL…and to think that these villages were built years and years ago….without the machinery etc., available to developers now.

      You’ve got me pondering…how to manage owning a custom built home in Deep Cove…just a small one mind you, hahahahahahaha

  • Reply karen December 8, 2016 at 9:50 am

    sigh….sooooo beautiful! you’re retracing some of the exact footsteps i took many years ago, when my friend and i were shoestring backpacking. your photos are amazing, and capture the rich colours of everything so well. it looks like you two had a marvelous time – so lovely 🙂

    • Reply Sue December 9, 2016 at 11:19 am

      Hi Karen. I sense I’m re-sharpening some special memories for you! Yay! G and I had backpack suitcases…yes, there is such a thing. So, not quite as rustic as a backpack, but still 100% practical for all the steps and rocky cobblestones.

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